I took a trip to the main branch of the Glendale Public Library yesterday and it got me thinking about perception and location.
Two of the library’s three branches are more or less equidistant from my house – the main, south of Peoria on 59th Avenue, and the Foothills, north of Union Hills on 55th Avenue. More or less doesn’t do it justice, actually – the real difference in driving distance between one or the other is about a quarter-mile. But, when I’m heading to the library (versus checking out books on the city’s tremendous digital library), I virtually always go to Foothills.
The only reason I ended up at the main branch was a search in vain to find a copy of Stephen King’s “It” for my 18-year-old, who was trying to purge Pennywise from her memory several days after we’d gone to see the movie. And, me being me, I checked out three books without thinking twice. Yesterday I returned the books and, me being me, checked out four more even though I have a lovely e-reader and a dozen or more books at the house still unread. It was as I was walking in that I did the math and realized I’d been ignoring the main branch for no reason.
I’m not alone. When my wife or kids go to the library, they also go north to Foothills rather than south to the main branch. That’s even though the main branch has peacocks roaming the parking lot and, if you get there near sunset, in the trees. (The photos don’t do justice to the sight of dozens of peacocks filling the trees. That alone is worth the trip.)
Perception and Location is Local
So why do we seem to favor one branch over the other? Maybe it’s because almost everything we need is north of us. Arrowhead Towne Center. Local movie theaters. Restaurants. Shopping. In my wife’s case, work. There’s one supermarket we frequent that’s a mile south and a couple miles over, but that’s the exception to the rule. Thunderbird Road is the southern edge of our existence for no particular reason other than our lives are lived between that street and the 101.
All of us get locked in the cocoons of our neighborhood. My Pennywise-fearing daughter lives in Peoria. If I venture to meet her for lunch, I have to specify which location of the chain restaurant because there’s one closer to each of us. There has been a Smashburger on Thunderbird for years; a new one opened near Arrowhead Towne Center. And most people only will visit one or the other. We’ll do the same, because the one south is a half-mile closer.
Talk to people near Sunrise Mountain High School about life around Cactus High and, despite being only six miles apart, it feels like describing the far side of the moon.
The REALTOR’s challenge
This is one of those little talked about ideas that help differentiate real estate agents – an understanding of how people live. We as a REALTOR can say things are close by because, to us, they are. We also drive all over the place. I’ve shown homes from Buckeye to Apache Junction, New River to Maricopa. But what we believe is close by may not really be, not to someone living in that particular location.
It’s not enough to find an agent who can open a door and point out the popcorn on the ceiling or identify a split floor plan. Though we can’t direct you to a particular neighborhood because of Fair Housing Laws, we can find the right house for you in the areas you desire. More important, someone like me won’t waste your time showing you homes whose location doesn’t meet your perception of what is “the neighborhood.”
That’s the difference between being a real estate professional versus merely licensed. Well, that and knowing where the peacocks are.